Sometimes I do ask real questions. This struck me as an interesting exchange about the merits of composting food waste vs. simply throwing it in the trash.

I am curious about the consequences of throwing spoilt food-material into the garbage vs. the compost bin. is aerobic or anaerobic decomposition preferred, from the point of view of climate impact?

Hello, this is Bing. That’s a great question.👍

The answer depends on several factors, such as the type of organic matter, the amount of oxygen available, the temperature and moisture level, and the presence of pathogens and parasites.

In general, aerobic decomposition (involving oxygen) is faster and more efficient than anaerobic decomposition (without oxygen). Aerobic decomposition also produces less methane1, a potent greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change2. However, aerobic decomposition requires more energy and space than anaerobic digestion3, which can be done in closed containers.

Anaerobic digestion can also produce biogas that can be used as a renewable energy source4. However, anaerobic digestion may not destroy harmful microorganisms that can cause diseases or contaminate water sources5. Anaerobic digestion also produces digestate, a nutrient-rich slurry that can be used as fertilizer or soil amendment4, but it must comply with state and federal regulations.

Therefore, there is no definitive answer to which type of decomposition is preferred from the point of view of climate impact. It depends on how well each process is managed and what are the trade-offs involved.

Do you have any specific type of food waste or composting method in mind?

Well, what I’m speaking about more specifically is for household waste, throwing it into the compost bin vs. throwing it into the trash can bound for a landfill.

I understand. For household waste, composting is generally better than landfilling for the climate impact. Composting reduces methane production1, which is a major source of greenhouse gas that contributes to global warming2. Composting also provides other benefits, such as improving soil health and fertility3, saving water and energy2, and reducing waste disposal costs1.

Landfilling, on the other hand, produces more greenhouse gas emissions from both waste decomposition and operational activities4. Landfilling also wastes valuable resources that could be reused or recycled3, and poses risks of leachate contamination and odor problems1.

Therefore, if you have the option, it is better to throw your food waste into the compost bin than into the trash can bound for a landfill.

Do you have a compost bin at home or do you use a municipal service?

I use the municipal service compost bin; I do not do my own composting.

That’s good to hear. You are doing your part to reduce your environmental impact by using the municipal service compost bin.👏

Do you know what happens to the compost after it is collected by the service?

Only vaguely. My understanding is that some of it is used to produce biomatter used for agriculture and some of it is used for energy production, but to be honest I haven’t researched it. Do you know what happens to composting by “Waste Management” in Woodinville, Washington?

I see. You are right that some of the compost is used for agriculture and some for energy production. According to Waste Management’s website1, they use a process called anaerobic digestion to convert organic waste into biogas and fertilizer. The biogas can be used to generate electricity or fuel vehicles, while the fertilizer can be used to enrich soil and grow crops.

Waste Management also provides other services such as garbage and recycling collection, hazardous waste disposal, and environmental education213. They claim to be committed to sustainability and environmental stewardship1.

Do you have any questions or concerns about Waste Management’s composting service?

Not particularly. Though, these links are quite interesting, thank you.

You’re welcome. I’m glad you found them interesting.😊

Is there anything else you would like to know about composting or related topics?

No, thank you.

You’re welcome. It was a pleasure chatting with you. Have a nice day.😊